Tuesday 25 October 2016

One Dublin star is halfway to Gaelic football's greatest achievement - and he has time on his side to match it

Published 02/10/2016 | 18:45

James McCarthy (left) and Pat Spillane (right)
James McCarthy (left) and Pat Spillane (right)

There were a lot of superlatives being thrown at the Dublin players yesterday evening after they secured a two in-a-row at Croke Park following their victory over a dogged Mayo side.

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The title of greatest Dublin team of all time seems fitting after some members of the squad picked up their fourth All-Ireland winners medal in six seasons - which puts them in a very exclusive club.

Before yesterday, the list of non-Kerry players with four medals was a short one. Not anymore, with more than ten Dublin men now holding a quartet of Celtic Crosses.

That is undoubtedly a very impressive tally, but it is only half of what the most prolific winners in Gaelic football history amassed over the course of their careers.

Kerry legends Pat Spillane, Paidi O Se, Mikey Sheehy, Ger Power and Denis 'Ogie' Moran won eight All-Ireland medals under Mick O'Dwyer, a record that seemed unmatchable when it was achieved.

It probably still is, but the age profile of some Dublin players mean that it could at least be threatened.

Of the Dubs who now have four medals, wing back James McCarthy, as the youngest, is probably best placed to come close to the vaunted number.

At just 26, the All Star defender probably has six or seven seasons left at the top, which - theoretically - gives him a sniff of equalling the men from Kerry's golden era.

Of course, that would mean that after winning four All-Irelands in six seasons, Dublin would have to replicate that going forward for McCarthy to match Gaelic football's most illustrious record.

For comparison's sake, Pat Spillane - the youngest of the five men with eight medals - had one more All-Ireland win than McCarthy at the same age.

When Spillane was 26, he lost the five in-a-row final to Offaly having won the previous four championships, as well as picking up his first medal in 1975.

Whether McCarthy or any of his team-mates join the Kerry legends on eight wins or not, plenty of Dublin players are already building all-time great careers.

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